Depression in the Workplace
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders globally. It causes immense human suffering and immense costs to the global economy due to lost productivity.
The causes of depression are diverse. They include a range of biological, psychological and social behaviours (psychosocial) and work-related factors, that in people with a vulnerability for depression can lead to the onset of a depressive episode or an aggravation of an existing depression.
Depression is a common disorder in people that are employed, in the same way it is for people who are unemployed or retired. Employed people with depression will feel exhausted, but it important to understand that their working conditions alone did not cause their depression. Most often, it is not the workplace, but the depressive disorder, that makes them feel this way.
Even though working conditions alone will not cause depression, because it is so common in society and people spend so much time at work, it is important for workplaces to understand depression and what to do when an employee is depressed. By acting, the suffering of people can be prevented and workplace costs due to sick leave and low productivity, can be avoided.
Workplaces can also contribute towards recovery from depression, by creating a non-stigmatising environment for example. With some basic knowledge and competency about depression, workplaces can recognise symptoms, adapt working conditions accordingly (if needed) and support help-seeking behaviour.
The following sections highlight actions that can be taken in the workplace, at the organisational, manager and employee level, to better recognise and support employees with depression.